Thursday, September 16, 2010
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 3
By David Ubben
Here's what I'll be keeping an eye on during this weekend's games across the conference.
1. Do you think the people away from home will be pretty cool? Texas and Nebraska didn't need great play from their quarterbacks to win their first two games. They might need it on Saturday, from first-year starters Garrett Gilbert and Taylor Martinez making their first starts on the road.
2. The next piece of the Jigsaw Jayhawks. Kansas visited its best and worst selves through two games this year, losing to North Dakota State before beating the defending ACC champs, Georgia Tech. What will we see from them in their first road game, a nationally televised game against Southern Miss on Friday night?
3. Yes, as of right now, TCU is the highest ranked team in Texas. Baylor will be making their first road trip this weekend, too, but they're big underdogs to in-state rivals up I-35, TCU. An upset or a close loss might make a few more people pay attention to the Bears, who have a great chance to qualify for a bowl game this year.
4. Gettis and Rutland Islands prepare for future visitors. Missouri's secondary has been one of the conference's best so far this year after being one of its worst last year, even if it has come against a first-year starter at Illinois and an FCS team. Can they keep it up, especially corners Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland, who have thus far shown plenty of improvement? They'll face tougher offenses later, but San Diego State has shown they can move the ball through the air effectively, with two 300-yard games from Ryan Lindley in blowout wins to begin the season.
5. Rumblin', bumblin', stumblin' D-Train rolls into KC. Iowa State hasn't been able to stop anybody from running the ball yet this season, ranking outside the top 100 nationally. They also have yet to face a running back as good as Daniel Thomas. Will he roll over them like he has the first two defenses he's faced, or can the Cyclones contain him?
6. You take the dive, I've got the pitch, you take the QB. Where's the ball? After a poor showing in Week 1, the spotlight was pretty firmly on Oklahoma's secondary against Florida State. Now, it's the front seven, which turned in a great performance against the Seminoles, too. This time, the task is containing a dangerous Air Force option attack. Do the Sooners dominate like last week, eke out a close win or go down? The last team to beat the Sooners in Norman was TCU, another Mountain West team.
7. Bounce back needed in Boulder. Kansas did it last week. Can Colorado repeat the feat? It got embarrassed in Berkeley with a 52-7 loss to Cal in front of the Pac-10 commissioner, and host a Hawaii team capable of scoring another 52 points and beating them in Boulder on Saturday. A loss would almost certainly squash most of the remaining optimism from the fan base.
8. Cleanup on aisle T (Boone). Oklahoma State turned the ball over five times in a 41-38 win over Troy last week. This week, Tulsa comes to down with another dynamic playmaker on offense, Damaris Johnson. The Golden Hurricane's only loss came on a Hail Mary in Week 1 against East Carolina, and if the Cowboys don't take care of the ball, they may be in trouble.
9. Speaking of squeaky clean. Texas A&M fumbled the ball four times on special teams last week, while also mixing in a punt return for a touchdown and downing a punt at the 1-yard line. Those kinds of mistakes won't cost them a win against Florida International, but if they don't eliminate them, they will eventually.
10. Jake who? You mean, like a cabinet-type thing? The Blackshirts shut down a whole lot of good quarterbacks last year. Blaine Gabbert, Colt McCoy, Tyrod Taylor and Landry Jones among them. If they want to live up to lofty expectations set by the Brothers Pelini this offseason, adding Washington's Jake Locker to the list of players who struggled against them would be a good start.